Sunday, January 28, 2007

PEELING THE ONION: Where will the Bush story end?

C&F believes it was Woodward and Bernstein who made the investigative reporter phrase "peeling the onion" famous. If Woodward and Bernstein were sports reporters, and if they hadn't become famous 35 years ago, they might be interested in a story that currently spans from L.A. to New Orleans and possibly even to New York.

The Reggie Bush scandal keeps growing.

Could make Bush and/or Pete Carroll cry.

For those of you who haven't been following the story, it started with some Yahoo! reports that Reggie Bush's family might have accepted illegal benefits from would-be agents. In the latest installment, Yahoo! drew on court documents to surmise that there could be tapes proving Bush took gifts he shouldn't have, because of these picayune things called eligibility rules.

Now the Los Angeles Times is jumping on, this time with a story claiming Bush wanted to be a part of the sports agency. (HT: Wiz of Odds)

The relevant particulars:

Former USC football star Reggie Bush was involved earlier and more deeply than previously reported in efforts to create a sports marketing agency that has been the focus of lingering controversy, according to lawyers for disgruntled partners in the failed venture.
The lawyers said it was Bush, along with his stepfather, LaMar Griffin, who proposed the agency as a way for the Heisman Trophy winner to avoid paying a percentage of his earnings to an established agent when he turned professional.
The NCAA and Pacific 10 Conference are investigating whether Bush violated rules of amateurism. If that is proved, USC could forfeit victories spanning two highly successful seasons and Bush could be forced to surrender his Heisman.
Attorney Brian Watkins said his client, Lloyd Lake, one of the agency's partners, planned to cooperate with collegiate investigators.
Watkins told The Times that Bush was present at several early meetings of the agency's founders and was active in pushing the idea of creating New Era Sports & Entertainment. Bush later introduced USC teammates to New Era backers Lake and Michael Michaels, the attorney said. [Emphasis is C&F's]

Now, C&F is no lawyer, and has certainly not read the eligibility rules of the NCAA. He has better things to do.

This comes to mind.

However, it seems to C&F that if taking illegal benefits from an agent is a no-no in the eyes of the NCAA, then wanting to be part of a sports agency and proposing to draw your teammates into the act is a major no-no. Almost as bad as having a Native American mascot. Almost.

The other thing that strikes C&F as significant is Lake's willingness to cooperate with collegiate investigators. If that includes turning over tapes, giving significant testimony, etc., this could get very ugly for Bush and, potentially, USC-West. Very ugly.

And there's a huge question here. Though Cohen says there appears to be "no information or indication that USC had actual knowledge of any of this," it's hard to believe that Reggie Bush was shuttling players in and out of a sports agency without anybody in the USC-West athletics department catching on.

FBI guys who missed Hanssen in charge of USC-West compliance?

And so the layers come off the onion, piece by piece by piece. Thing is, you don't know how many layers an onion has until you reach the core.

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